By Anne Stefanyk
Your nonprofit website is a valuable tool for modern fundraising. Not only is it the first place prospects look to learn more about your organization, it’s also where current supporters go for updates on your mission and to explore upcoming opportunities.
As the focal point of almost all of your donor engagements, without your nonprofit website, you’d have trouble both recruiting new supporters and retaining current ones.
There are a number of elements that play a critical role in how your website performs, the way visitors engage with it, and your online conversion rates. To position your site as a successful donor engagement tool, you’ll need an optimized nonprofit website.
The best nonprofit sites are well-designed, scalable, easy to use, and effectively meet your target users’needs. If you want to leverage your own site as a donor engagement tool, make sure to follow these five tips:
- Review general website development best practices
- Integrate your site with other nonprofit solutions
- Advertise your upcoming campaigns and events
- Add consistent content to your blog roll
- Consider starting an online webinar series
Let’s dive in by reviewing the basics.
1. Review general website development best practices
Taking some insight from Kanopi’s team of website user experience (UX) experts: “As the centerpiece of your digital engagements, your nonprofit website UX is extremely important if you want to not only acquire new supporters, but continue to retain current ones.”
Nonprofit website UX encompasses how users interact with your site. From how long it takes to load to how easy it is to navigate through different pages, there are a number of factors that can either encourage site visitors to continue engaging with your site or push them away.
If you want to improve your own site UX, reviewing general nonprofit website maintenance practices is the best place to start.
Here are the basic essentials to know:
- Stick to simple user-based design. Your website already hosts a variety of different engagements. To minimize confusion and benefit your site UX, make sure each page and section stays simple and serves one clear purpose. Cramming too much information or site elements into one place can be overwhelming.
- Test your site load time. If your website doesn’t load fast enough, the chances of users giving up on it drastically increases. Regularly test your site and flag any obvious loading pain points, like large image or video files.
- Make sure it is mobile-optimized. With 51% of online site traffic coming from mobile phones, it’s critical that your site works on any size screen. If not, you’re missing out on over half of your supporters.
- Feature Call to actions (CTAs) to popular engagements. It’s likely people are visiting your site because they want to learn more, donate, sign up for an event (virtual for now), or become a volunteer. Include clear buttons and links, as well as a navigation menu that takes site visitors to these pages.
These are just some general tips for making sure your website is in good shape. With these basics down, you can start focusing on specific tools and content you’ll need to take your donor engagement to the next level. Above all, UX is a top priority. Explore these examples of top nonprofit websites to see these best practices in action.
2. Integrate your site with other nonprofit solutions
As the center of your online engagements, your nonprofit website is doing a very important job: collecting data. This includes metrics of how prospective and current donors find your site and the specific links and pages that they frequent. Information like this can help you create targeted marketing strategies and give you a sense of the different types of supporters you have.
To make good use of this data and expand your donor engagement capabilities, we recommend integrating your other nonprofit solutions as well. Tech integrations connect separate software platforms to centralize their data.
For nonprofits, having integrations between your online donation tools, constituent relationship management (CRM) database, email communications tool, and website is critical. This ensures that you have real-time access to accurate engagement data.
What does this mean for your nonprofit website? Use your nonprofit and donor data to help strategize the best ways to create a meaningful and valuable experience for site visitors. This can not only help you capitalize on engagement efforts, but also deepen your donor relationships. It also leverages the best of other tools so your site and staff don’t have to do all the heavy lifting.
3. Advertise your upcoming campaigns and events
This might seem like a no-brainer, but your website should showcase all of your upcoming fundraising campaigns and events. If prospects or current supporters want to participate, they’ll go to your website to find out more.
For one thing, we recommend dedicating entire pages to each event or campaign. This way, you have ample space to discuss details, how supporters can participate, and even embed a customized and branded online donation form. Then, using website design and layout, make sure to effectively advertise those exciting opportunities.
Here are some ways you can do this:
- Put your event or campaign marketing content front and center on your homepage. Remember to switch out this content once the event is over or else your website risks looking outdated.
- Link to your events calendar within your navigation menu.
- Incorporate key calls-to-action to event sign-ups and donation pages across different web pages wherever it seems valuable.
- Include links back to the event or campaign page in other marketing content like email newsletters and social media posts.
Whether you want to get a head start on your year-end giving campaign or you’re announcing a brand new event, connect prospects to your nonprofit website so they have actionable and concrete next steps.
4. Add consistent content to your blog roll
What if you don’t have any events or campaigns coming up? How can you still send users to your online site? Consider creating consistent and active blog content! You can do this right on your nonprofit website with a dedicated blog roll.
Many organizations, software companies, and services in the philanthropic space create blog posts for their websites. Not only does this paint them as an authoritative figure, but it’s a valuable digital strategy that increases website SEO (search engine optimization). The more high-quality content your website has, the better Google and other search engines will rank it.
But what kind of blog posts should you create and what kind of content is your audience interested in? Use this list to start brainstorming with your marketing team:
- News stories relevant to your mission
- Advice and tips for those in the community that your nonprofit serves
- Updates on nonprofit events, campaigns, and other major accomplishments
- Announcements for new nonprofit developments
- Testimonials from community members you’ve helped
For instance, The American Heart Association has blog content specific to healthy living and other health-related topics. Even though these blog posts aren’t directly discussing the campaigns and accomplishments they’ve achieved, they still provide value and offer an additional engagement point for their supporters.
5. Consider starting an online webinar series
Similar to creating blog content, starting an online webinar series is a key way to position your organization as a thought leader. Webinars are usually meetings or presentations that are hosted online, either live or pre-recorded, and led by professionals of the topic at hand.
Many nonprofit organizations and related businesses host webinars to talk about topics ranging from top fundraising strategies to new advancements in their particular field. But these aren’t just beneficial to teach your nonprofit supporters and peers best practices. They also offer an additional layer of interactivity!
Depending on the webinar and video conferencing platform you use, audience members should be able to comment, ask questions, and even talk to each other. This doesn’t just engage your supporters, but also encourages them to interact with each other and build an online community.
Consider asking top staff members or other experts serving similar missions to lead these conversations. You might even crowdsource some good ideas from viewers that you can implement into future fundraising efforts. DonorSearch has a helpful list of nonprofit webinar series that you can explore for inspiration.
Start small. Don’t commit to too many webinars. If you can only handle one per quarter, that’s just fine. And once the webinar is over? You can repurpose that content into a blog post, which helps address item #4 on our list.
Don’t let your nonprofit website fall to the wayside. As one of your most important donor engagement tools, a well-designed and valuable site can take your fundraising and important relationships to the next level.
Make sure to review basic site best practices for a solid foundation and then brainstorm creative content to keep visitors engaged. Soon, your website will become the go-to for supporters and donors who want to learn more—not just about what your nonprofit is doing, but about the major updates regarding your mission in general. Good luck!
As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne Stefanyk helps create clarity around project needs and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.
Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew.
Twitter – @Anne_Kanopi